Selling Stock Photography and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Selling Stock Photography and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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Matthew Porter #PSC000762558

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of those buzzwords flying around the Internet that describes a general approach towards increasing your visibility to search engines. The goal of SEO for a photographer is to come up on the first page of a search engine when a buyer performs a search. For example, if a buyer is searching for “Grand Canyon Stock Photos” and your page came up first, then the search engine acts as an effective marketing funnel for garnering new clients. And the more eyeballs that see your work, the higher likelihood that you will make a sale.

Although there are different techniques for improving SEO, the single most important factor (for most mainstream search engines) in determining a page’s ranking is the number of in-bound links pointing to that page. For example, a lot of people have set up various pages that link to “photoshelter.com” therefore when a user searches for “photoshelter” in Google, our website comes up first. If GE had a product called “photoshelter” and more people linked to it, then their site would come up ahead of ours.

Although PhotoShelter employs a number of SEO techniques, the single most important factor in gaining visibility is the number of pages referencing given content. For this reason, relying on PhotoShelter alone to improve your search engine visibility is a poor strategy.

One very interesting way to increase your visibility is through the creation of a blog. Although we often think of blogs as destinations of readable content, many people use blogs to simply create pages to point to other content.

Jim Hunter created his blog in Feburary 2005 using Blogger to display his food images. He structures the entries in such a way that an image appears in close proximity to a description of the image, and each image has a link back to a page on PhotoShelter where it can be licensed.  He uses the same technique on his regular website.


“Most search engines and especially Google heavily weight incoming links so the main thing I have always tried to do is to have as many pertinent links as possible pointing to my main web site,” said Hunter.  “I use Blogger for my blog which happens to be owned by Google. I also have a number of Google Alerts set up so as soon as something gets indexed by Google it sends me an email. Whenever I publish a new post on my blog it is very often only a matter of an hour or so before Google indexes the new post and I get an email notification.”

The result? If you search for “texas style chili stock,” Jim’s page comes up first in Google.

Hunter continues, “One of the first things I always ask a new prospective client is, ‘How did you find me?’ I don’t know for sure if my SEO efforts have helped but I do know they haven’t hurt. My web site does generally rank fairly high on Google and I would have to say that probably 90% of my clients have found me simply through one search engine or another. This includes assignment work as well as stock sales.”

Blog comments and SEO
The PhotoShelter blog employs a “nofollow” tag that prevents search engines from following links that appear in blog comments. This tag was developed to avoid comment spamming, whereby, robots would just comment on random blogs (e.g. “Hey, that was a great post. Check this out!”) to increase SEO. Because we use the “nofollow” commenting has no effect from an SEO perspective.

That doesn’t mean it’s not valuable to comment, however. Having a “nofollow” tag means that search engines don’t follow the links. But if you sign your comment with a URL, a human could follow it if they were compelled to by the insight of your post.

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Catherine dée Auvil at 1:40 pm

    OK, that makes a lot of sense. I’m going to create a Blogger blog for new images. But I still think iStock and Shutterstock get higher ranks because they have the word “stock” in their url. So I humbly request that PSC put everything in the future in a sub-folder called “stockphotos.” So a url would read psc.photoshelter.com/image/stockphotos/PSC000519575/ or name each image in the collection stockphoto psc.photoshelter.com/image/stockphoto000519575/ Correct me if I’m wrong.

  2. photohumorist at 10:08 am

    I just got myself a copy of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Growing Your Own Business with Google” in hopes of maximizing visibility of my online presence for Photohumorist.com and my PhotoShelter Collection archive. Your post reminds me that I should actually read it. Otherwise it might just sit on the shelf unused. My PhotoShelter Collection

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